It sounds a little melodramatic to suggest Tottenham Hotspur have got their Premier League season back on track. After all, Harry Redknapp's team had begun the day in seventh place, and within five points of the Champions League berths.
Yet a recent return of two points from an available 12 had led to some grumbling. Was the Champions League adventure, which has seen them beat Inter at home and look a decent bet for the last 16, taking a toll?
Everyone at the club was mindful that, after Blackburn's visit, three of their next four league fixtures were against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. It would not have been difficult to imagine the reaction to a disappointing result.
It never threatened to come to that. Redknapp's team were a cut above in the areas that mattered the most and once Gareth Bale had scored the first of his two goals, Tottenham eased to victory. Blackburn had started with five in defence, with their full-backs under orders to step out to press Bale and Rafael van der Vaart, who played on the right flank.
The plan had worked last Wednesday in the victory at Newcastle United but here it came unstuck for a pretty fundamental reason. "As a defensive unit, we were diabolical," said Sam Allardyce, the Rovers manager.
Allardyce changed to a 4-1-4-1 formation and he felt that his team was "exciting" as an offensive force. He bemoaned first-half misses by Morten Gamst Pedersen and Nikola Kalinic, whom he substituted at the interval, while he saw his players create plenty in the second period. Yet their goals, from the substitute David Dunn and Gaël Givet, came when Tottenham had switched off and they did little more than offer the veneer of respectability to the scoreline.
As ever these days, it was Bale who took the acclaim. He now has eight goals in all competitions – his second was steered home after Van der Vaart appeared to have handled – and he has given a succession of defenders nightmares. Míchel Salgado was the latest to suffer, with Allardyce withdrawing the 35-year-old in the 37th minute, principally, he said, in the interests of his formation change. Bale took some punishment, most notably from Brett Emerton and the substitute El Hadji Diouf, but the three points gained soothed the bruises.
His opening goal owed much to the quick thinking of Van der Vaart. The Dutchman spotted the ball for a corner and he sent it over immediately; Bale, on the same wavelength, had sprinted away from the flat-footed Givet and he crashed a header home at the near post. Bale was a menace, his driving runs and whipped, low deliveries causing havoc but it was one of his deep crosses that led to Tottenham's second. Blackburn's defenders were drawn to the near post by Peter Crouch's run and Roman Pavlyuchenko rose unchallenged to head past Paul Robinson. Allardyce raged.
Pavlyuchenko's finish spared him a half-time rollicking from Redknapp, or at least, it diluted the full flavour of it. The Russia striker had blown a glorious chance in the 28th minute when clean through and, shortly afterwards, he missed a penalty, dubiously awarded by Andre Marriner for an alleged foul by Robinson on Crouch. Marriner had earlier ignored a more plausible Tottenham penalty appeal when Salgado caught Luka Modric, choosing instead to book Modric for a dive.
Rovers threatened to make a game of it in the second half. First, Pedersen beat Heurelho Gomes but saw William Gallas kick his shot of the line and then Gomes saved smartly from Diouf, who would later have an effort cleared off the line by Younes Kaboul. Crouch's first league goal of the season, though, following a lapse by Givet, effectively ended the contest.
THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT DAVE MASON, Observer reader For the most part we looked comfortable. Blackburn are normally in your face but they were a bit tame. They will say they scored twice and had two attempts kicked off the line, but that was the usual sloppiness that creeps into our game. Jenas made a big difference in midfield for us, while Bale was more energetic than he was in the midweek home draw with Sunderland. Pavlyuchenko was extremely hard-working and even when he missed a penalty and an open goal, the crowd were still singing 'Super Pav'. I think it's because most of us think he's a better centre-forward than Crouch.
The fan's player ratings Gomes 7; Hutton 7, Gallas 7, Kaboul 6, Assou-Ekotto 7; Van der Vaart 7 (Palacios 85 n/a), Jenas 8, Modric 7, Bale 8; Crouch 6, Pavlyuchenko 8 (Sandro 89 n/a)
MARCUS TATTERSALL, Observer reader This was a bizarre game straight from the Ossie Ardiles school of defending. It was littered with errors by both sides. At least Allardyce tried to counter Bale's speed by switching formation, but the damage had been done. Tom Daley would have been proud of some of the antics of Pavlyuchenko and others. White Hart Lane was really subdued and it took until it was 4-0 to burst into life. Robinson was outstanding and the Tottenham fans are still in love with him. Three games ago we would have settled for six points out of nine, but roll on the January transfer window. We need a strike force.
The fan's player ratings Robinson 8; Salgado 5 (EH Diouf 37 6), Samba 5, Nelsen 5, Givet 5, Chimbonda 6; Emerton 5, Jones 6, Pedersen 6 (Dunn 63 7), Hoilett 6; Kalinic 5 (Roberts ht 6)
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